How to Plant a Tree From the Nursery in New Jersey

Plant a tree
Before planting a tree, be sure you have selected one that will thrive on your property.
Call Before You Dig!!!
We can’t stress this enough. It is always important to check for gas lines and other utility lines before you dig. Call 811 to have workers mark any utility lines before you dig for any reason.
When to Plant a Tree
The ideal times to plant a tree are in autumn after leaves have dropped and in early spring before bud break. During these cooler seasons, plants require less energy and so you will allow the tree time to focus on spreading its roots rather than nourishing leaves. They can thrive throughout the growing season if they are healthy bailed, burlapped, or container trees, but it is best to aim for dormant seasons.

Steps to Planting your Nursery Tree

  1. Make sure the trunk flare is partially visible after the tree is planted. You may have to remove excess soil prior to planting in order to see where the trunk widens on the bottom before the roots.
  2. Dig a shallow and broad hole. The temptation may be to dig a hole the size of the root ball, but ideally, you will dig two to three times wider than the root ball and only deep enough to allow the trunk flare to remain visible once planted.
  3. Remove any wrapping around the root ball such as burlap. If any roots are circling either straighten them or cut them before planting to prevent the roots from growing girdled. Again, the soil may be covering the trunk flare. Expose it if necessary.
  4. Be sure not to plant too deep. When placing the tree at the proper height, be sure to lift it by the root ball rather than the trunk. Most roots will grow into the top 12 inches of soil.
  5. Have a friend or helper verify that the tree is straight before planting. They will want to look from multiple angles to ensure the tree isn’t started at a lean.
  6. Gently fill the hole with dirt as not to damage the roots, but then pack the soil firmly around the root ball to stabilize it.
  7. Please note that staking a tree often does more harm than good. If the tree has a heavy crown or leaf cover and small root ball or is top-heavy with bare roots, is young and planted in a windy area, or has a flexible trunk that won’t stay upright without support, it may be necessary to stake the tree. You may also want to stake the tree if it’s in a high-traffic area where children or careless pedestrians may knock the tree over. In this instance, you will want to follow the proper staking procedures.
  8. Place a 2 to 3-inch layer of mulch around the tree. Do not volcano-mulch the tree.  There should be a mulch-free area at the base of the tree about 1-2 inches wide. Placing mulch around the trunk of the tree will cause it to become too moist and be susceptible to insects and disease.
  9. Care for the tree. Keep the soil moist by watering at least once a week if it hasn’t rained and more frequently during periods of high heat or wind.